Microsoft Offers Money to Edit Wikipedia

Microsoft is finding itself in hot water after it was revealed that the company offered to pay an Australian blogger to correct information on Wikipedia regarding its Office Open XML standard.

The company said it spotted several inaccuracies in articles on the standard, and decided against editing them on its own. Generally, editing your own Wikipedia articles is considered a conflict of interest, and is frowned upon by the community.

Rick Jelliffe, the man Microsoft approached, said in a Web log post that he would accept the offer on Monday. However, it seems that his task was not only to counter misinformation on Wikipedia, but on Web logs as well.

Jelliffe said a brief scan of the article brought up several errors, and he has asked others to submit errors they find so he can correct them. "FUD enrages me and MS certainly are not hiring me to add any pro-MS FUD, just to correct any errors I see," he wrote.

What remains to be seen however, is if Wikipedia may let his changes stand, now that it has been revealed he is getting paid for his entries. Founder Jimmy Wales told the Associated Press that it has banned others with a paid interest such as PR firms and campaign workers from editing pages.

"We were very disappointed to hear that Microsoft was taking that approach," Wales said.

To its defense, Microsoft has said the changes were made because it had reason to believe the article was written by employees of IBM, a staunch supporter of the Open Document Format. The company also goes on to claim it got nowhere flagging errors to Wikipedia editors, although that claims seems to be in dispute.

"Other than that comment from the MS employee from August (here on the talk page), yeah, I see no evidence that they tried to do much about it themselves," an editor named Warren wrote on the discussion page for the topic.

Either way, it appears as if Jelliffe will move forward with his work. "I'm looking forward to the next few days," he wrote.

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